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The problem with Erdogan

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by Deji McGever, Sep 5, 2013.

  1. Deji McGever

    Deji McGever יליד טקסני
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    This piece was recently published on +972, generally a very left-of-center site, but it brings up an important point about Turkey's not so cool foreign relations.

    It also reminds the reader that Obama made a pretty big accomplishment by getting Netanyahu to make an apology and offer payment to restore relations, and that Netanyahu himself certainly went against his own camp and made a huge political sacrifice in doing so. But most importantly, as the piece warns, if Erdogan doesn't keep his end of the bargain, it will make Israel far less likely to make similar concessions in the future with other parties (particularly the Palestinians). After all, it will be easy for the hardliners to the right of Bibi to point at Turkey and say that making concessions for peace and reconcilation are short-sighted and naive.


    Turkey must fulfill its pledge to Israel

    Netanyahu publicly placed his reputation and his country’s pride on the line in order to appease Obama and improve relations with Turkey; by ignoring its already agreed upon terms, Erdogan will make the Israeli people less likely to support another far-reaching agreement.

    By Aaron Magid



    [​IMG]
    Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks at the opening plenary of the World Economic Forum June 2012( World Economic Forum CC BY-SA 2.0)

    At the end of a much-anticipated trip to Israel in March, US President Barak Obama achieved a major diplomatic breakthrough. Following years of tension between Turkey and Israel — two key American allies in the region — Obama orchestrated a reconciliation agreement between the two sides, which promised to reduce animosity. Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu risked domestic political backlash by formally apologizing for Israeli military’s actions in 2010 killing nine Turkish activists, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ignored his side of the agreement by dispatching an ambassador to Israel and normalizing ties. Obama must demand that Turkey fulfill its earlier pledge lest Turkey face public American condemnation.

    Turkey and Israel experienced a low-point in their relations following the Gaza Flotilla crisis. Although the nations at one time had close ties, especially on the military level, this incident contributed to a deterioration of relations. Both sides contributed to the tense atmosphere. At an international conference even before the 2010 Flotilla incident, Erdogan publicly embarrassed dovish Israeli President Shimon Peres exclaiming, “When it comes to killing, you know well how to kill.” Similarly, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon invited the Turkish Ambassador into his office for a condemnation in front of television cameras. At this point, he explained in Hebrew that he placed the Turkish Ambassador on a lower seat with only the Israeli flag in the room— a tactic designed to humiliate Turkey.

    However, in a startling reversal of Netanyahu’s policy and going against coalition leaders such as former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who called the move a “grave mistake,” Netanyahu capitulated and formally apologized to Turkey— forgoing his nation’s pride for the sake of improved bilateral relations at the behest of Obama. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu admitted that Israel agreed to every Turkish condition, which was not easy for Netanyahu to accept. It is important to remember that there were two sides to this agreement. Israel apologized and provide compensation while Turkey was supposed to send its ambassador back to Israel and reinstate normal diplomatic ties.

    Unfortunately, Turkey has not followed through with its promise and completed the reconciliation process. Months after Netanyahu’s phone call and several rounds of reconciliation talks, no Turkish ambassador has been dispatched to Tel Aviv and relations between the two countries remain cold. The Turkish newspaper Haberturk wrote that Israel was even willing to pay Turkey $15 million dollars in compensation for the 2009 flotilla killings, yet Ankara rejected this offer demanding far more money. While Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily reported that an Israeli diplomat in Ankara holding the rank of second secretary has been invited to a government holiday commemoration, the first time this has occurred since 2010, this minimalist action is far from what normalization of relations generally entails. In an almost comical accusation citing evidence obtained from YouTube, Erdogan blamed Israel for the recent Egyptian coup against former President Mohamed Morsi. Erdogan’s attack was vilified by Egypt with Morsi’s media advisor writing on Twitter, “West agents [such as Erdogan] shouldn’t be giving us advice in nationalism.” Erdogan’s offensive public accusations, among other combative remarks, demonstrate that he is completely uninterested in normalization, despite his earlier agreement.

    Since President Obama personally brokered this agreement and called it an “important step,” he has the obligation to ensure that both sides implement the agreement. Netanyahu publicly placed his reputation and his country’s pride on the line in order to appease Obama and improve relations with Turkey; by ignoring its already agreed upon terms, Erdogan is humiliating Netanyahu and making the Israeli people less likely to support another far-reaching agreement and more distrustful of a Middle East neighbor.

    Obama’s credibility in the region has already declined with his handling of Syria and its use of chemical weapons. Therefore, Obama continuing to remain silent on Erdogan’s inaction will lead leaders in the Middle East to view Obama as someone who they can easily manipulate. With tensions peaking in Syria, this is a situation that must be avoided.

    Aaron Magid is an M.A. candidate at Harvard University specializing in Middle Eastern Studies. He is a staff writer for the Jerusalem Review of Near Eastern Affairs. His work has previously appeared in the Daily Beast, Jerusalem Post, and the Forward. He can be reached via Twitter @AaronMagid.
     
  2. AroundTheWorld

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    Good article.

    Erdogan is scum.

    Like almost all evil dictators, he has a moustache. (Kim Yong Un can't grow one...).
     
  3. MoonDogg

    MoonDogg Member

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  4. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    Erdogan is an interesting case of Islam dealing with the modern world. He has done a great job on the economy, improving ties with the EU, and dealing with the Kurds but at the same time he has also worsened relations between secular and religious and with Israel. With what is happening in Syria Turkey and Israel are going to need each other and Erdogan is not helping the situation. Perhaps he fears an uprising among his own Islamic base of support.
     
  5. AroundTheWorld

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    He has most definitely NOT improved ties with the EU, very much on the contrary. He has also not been dealing with the Kurds well. And their economy is about to go down the drain.
     
  6. geeimsobored

    geeimsobored Contributing Member

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    His first term (as well as much of his second term) was all about the EU. He tried really hard to push Turkey's joining the EU. And that meant all kinds of reforms to conform to EU rules. They had to open their economy, comply with EU and European human rights laws, etc..

    The problem is that the collapse of the Eurozone basically killed any reason to join the EU. The collapse of the Eurozone had the strange effect of killing a lot of the incentives to harmonize Turkish laws and society with European Union policy and norms.

    The EU was a powerful driver of Erdogan's governing agenda for a long time. But now that the EU is more or less off the table, Erdogan has gone in a completely different direction.
     
  7. AroundTheWorld

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    It was obvious to those who were paying attention what Erdogan's agenda was, even when he was trying to pretend that he was willing to please the EU. Even during that time, he came to Germany and held a very telling speech in which he told the people of Turkish origin living in Germany that "assimilation is a crime against humanity". Erdogan had no place in the EU, even before the economic problems within the EU. He did not want to get into the EU because he shares values with those in EU countries. He wanted to get in because he saw it as an opportunity to benefit and increase his sphere of influence.
     
  8. geeimsobored

    geeimsobored Contributing Member

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    Put aside his motives. EU accession had an impact on his governing agenda. It forced him to moderate, forced him to open the economy up, forced him to even adopt European regulations.

    He had to govern in a way that the European Union found at least partially acceptable. When the Eurozone collapsed, that motivating influence was gone. The EU had a lot to do with how he governed and they are no longer around to force him to govern in a more responsible manner.

    You can call him a fraud all you want and I wont even disagree with you all that much. But you can't say that the EU was irrelevant in all off this. It had a huge impact on his governing agenda. Compare how he ruled in his first term versus how he ruled now. Its like two different people were running the country.
     
  9. AroundTheWorld

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    But he didn't. He was never getting in.

    The EU is still around. He realized he wasn't going to get in. Then he took his mask off even more.

    I am not disagreeing that he sort of made an effort in his first term to pretend he was going to be a good boy if he was allowed to join the EU (even though it was quite transparent that he was a fraud). When he realized he was never going to get in, as I said, he didn't care to play nice at all anymore. I guess that is what you are saying. I don't disagree.
     
  10. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    Geeimsobored pointed out Erdogan's out reach to the EU. While on the Kurdish front he did attempt to smooth things over with the Kurds but you are correct in the last few years that looks like they haven't gone so well. As far as the economy Turkey's GDP has averaged 5.2% growth between 2002 and 20011 and is currently at 3.2% which given the global downturn is pretty good.
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Turkey

    All that said though I am leery of Erdogan and the direction regarding religion and the state he is taking Turkey in. Turkey has the chance of becoming a great country, a future economic tiger that could profoundly change the region, but Erdogan probably isn't the guy to do that.
     
  11. Buck Turgidson

    Buck Turgidson Mineshaft Enthusiast

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    That was a popular style among many Central Europeans in the 20's & 30's. Always thought it was weird to see pics of Czech/Polish Slavic/Jewish men with Hitler 'staches.
     
  12. glynch

    glynch Contributing Member

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    Actually the thread could be entitled the problem with Israel. Killing the Turks protesting Israeli violation of t international law of occupation was not cool. Looking at it only from the point of how noble or how much Netanyahu risked by apologizing for such killing i.e. acting in what should have been a civilized fashion is a telling perspective.
     
  13. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Insider Newsletter™ 2X Diamond Member

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    Turkey's foreign policy has been schizo lately.

    Two years ago, they were the toast of the Middle East. Arab Spring had a role to play in that since they had to make a choice rather than being everyone's BFF, but that doesn't begin to describe the amount of unforced errors made over the last year.
     

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